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Governments investing $3.6M in northern highway research

The Feds along with the Government of Yukon are investing in two climate change adaptation research projects, one to study the effectiveness of thermosyphons and another to monitor changing highway conditions.


highway

Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway (source: Tetra Tech)

The Government of Canada and the Government of Yukon are investing in two climate change adaptation research projects under the Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative.

1) The first project is for the design and construction of an adaptation technique to stabilize permafrost thaw at Dry Creek (km 1841) on the Alaska Highway. Devices which transfer cold surface air into the permafrost, known as thermosyphons, were developed to reduce permafrost thaw and improve highway performance by cooling the ground beneath the embankment. Ground temperature cables will be installed to monitor the effectiveness of the thermosyphons and provide future research opportunities.

If proven successful, the use of thermosyphons will:

  • reduce road maintenance costs
  • prolong service life of highways
  • make transportation more efficient

Over the next three years, Transport Canada is providing up to $1 million for this project. Yukon Highways and Public Works is providing $1.3 million, for a total cost of $2.3 million.

2) The second project will study climate change adaptation and impacts along the northern highways. It will research the impact of climate change on northern transportation infrastructure, with a focus on sections of the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, as well as the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway. The study is a collaboration between the Yukon and Northwest Territories governments, the Yukon College Cold Climate Innovation Centre, and Carleton University’s Northern Studies graduate program.

This project will have three phases:

  • the first phase will assess how climate change affects the cost of maintaining northern highways;
  • the second phase will study how the environmental impacts linked with climate change can result in hazardous road conditions;
  • in the third phase, the research team will share their results and also develop training materials for managing our northern roads and highways in a changing climate. This project will be completed in March 2021.

Over four years, Transport Canada is providing up to $980,850 for this project. Yukon Highways and Public Works is providing $326,950, for a total cost of $1.3 million.

These projects will build on previous climate change research, contribute to solving current problems, and provide concrete solutions to climate change impacts on northern transportation systems.